By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has increased several immigration-related fines/penalties, effective October 19, 2021. These increases were pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015. Since that time, penalties have been adjusted yearly based on the rate of inflation. Below is chart listing the increases:

Offense Old Penalty New Penalty
Substantive Form I-9 violations - minimum $234 $237
Substantive Form I-9 violations - maximum $2,332 $2,360
Knowingly hiring/employing undocumented – 1st $583-$4,667 $590-$4,722
Knowingly hiring/employing undocumented – 2nd $4,667-$11,665 $4,722-$11,803
Knowingly hiring/employing undocumented – 3rd $6,999-$23,331 $7,082-$23,607
Document Fraud $481-$9,639 $487-$ 9,753

These penalties apply to violations that took place after November 2, 2015. For violations that took place before November 2, 2015, the penalties are substantially less. As an example, substantive Form I-9 violations before November 2, 2015 range from $110 to $1,100.

If you are concerned about your company’s immigration compliance, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, available at